Sean Rodriguez and Free Agent FOMO

Sean Rodriguez
Photo Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Sean Rodriguez, a name mentioned last week as being of potential interest to the Blue Jays, has signed with the Atlanta Braves for two years and “more than” $11 million, per a Ken Rosenthal tweet.

Great! Good for him. Good for the shitty Braves for trying to put a not-terrible team on the field at brand new White Flight Park. But ultimately… who gives a shit?

Turns out a few people, actually!

Don’t get me wrong here. I don’t want to create a straw man and spend the next few paragraphs pointlessly wailing on him [note: or do I?]. I’m not talking about a whole lot of people (that I’ve seen), and it’s not like anyone is freaking out, so much as they’re grumbling. But still, I think this is a topic that deserves attention, because it’s probably only going to get worse from here… like it does every winter.

It’s true that the Jays still have several holes in their roster. And that guys like Rodriguez, or Josh Reddick (who signed last week with the Astros), or Brett Cecil could have done a nice job in helping to fill them. But the vast majority of the off-season is still to come!

MLB Trade Rumors is following 220 players with its free agent tracker. With the signing of Rodriguez, 199 of them remain on the market!

The Jays will be fine. The Jays will do something. They already have done something in signing Kendrys Morales to the second most expensive deal handed out thus far! 

Every year it seems that there are fans who need to be reminded that free agency doesn’t operate like a supermarket, with aisles of ballplayers standing there sticker-gunned with a price and ready to be placed into a cart, and reminded that the process is really more like an auction, except that the player has actual agency in choosing which bids are acceptable. Though even that description is insufficient, because there are really scores of auctions going on at all times, and shifting bids coming from suitors with shifting priorities.

I don’t want to condescendingly walk us all through the basics of supply and demand here — especially because I’m a real layman when it comes to economics — it’s just… y’know?

Steve Pearce, for example, is a right-handed bat, like Rodriguez, and has consistently been a better hitter, while offering less positional versatility. If the Jays want someone to spell Justin Smoak against left-handed pitchers — and we all hope and pray that they do (at the very least!) — there are still options out there. Beyond just Pearce, even. Especially if you consider the potential for trades, too.

There’s an art to all of this. Some players will misread the market and hold out signing until there are too few suitors left willing to give them the contract that they want, or sign too early when they might have waited and got more. Teams will try to exploit those mistakes, but they might also do the same thing, either jumping too soon and wasting money or opportunity, or waiting too long and missing out. It’s a pretty fucking delicate puzzle when you think about it! Especially when you remember that the teams are all trying to work within their budget, too.

All of which is a long-winded way of saying that judging, or even just harumphing about missing on players here and there misses much too much of the big picture to make any damned sense. At least when it’s not a top tier guy you badly wanted your team to sign — harumph away when Edwin goes to Boston! — and not the last possible palatable option left.

Obviously.

And all of that is true even when it’s been rumoured that your team has had some interest in a player. Everybody is linked to just about everybody at this time of year! They’ve talked to and about just about everybody! The fact Rodriguez (or any of the umpteen other guys who will do so by the end of the winter) was linked to the Jays and then went elsewhere doesn’t mean this is a “CHEAP ROGERS!!!!” situation. It’s not a team beating themselves by clutching too tightly to their dollars and cementing their destiny of coming up empty-handed. It’s Sean fucking Rodriguez. Or Josh Reddick. Or Brett Cecil.

There are still many paths to take to improve this club, and every time a certain path is closed off, others get a little bit easier to navigate. Not so easy that the club will be able to fall ass backwards into bargains or avoid having to take chances, but there will be moves they think worth jumping at (Morales) and other spots where they can wait and see. Which is exactly what it’s always like at this time of year — before the Winter Meetings, and before the non-tender deadline.

I know the vast majority of people reading this completely get it, and even those prone to grumbling do too. Shit, I even understand the grumbling on a certain level — I want the mystery revealed, too! I don’t particularly enjoy roster limbo, either, and especially won’t once the real dominoes start actually falling. It’s just… y’know?